For Anil Kumar, an executive engineer at the Aminabad sub-station in Lucknow, part of his job is to stay healthy and answer every phone call. For, the web of old power cables and transformers in old Lucknow that keep tripping throughout the day requires him to stay alert and not answering a phone call may mean a swift suspension letter.
“I am not Narendra Modi that I can work non-stop from 6 am to 1 am, but I try my best,” says Kumar. “There is no time to be unwell because then, you will be immediately replaced,” he says, sitting in his office where a weak AC drones on. On a shelf beside his table are files neatly marked ‘RTI’, ‘Government Orders’, ‘Consumer Complaints’, ‘Newspaper Cutting’, ‘5 KW and Above Consumers’, ‘Power Theft Complaints’, among others.
As the BJP and Samajwadi Party engage in a blame game over Uttar Pradesh’s power crisis, it is the footsoldiers of the Power Department — executive engineers such as Kumar, sub-divisional officers, junior engineers and linesmen — who have to bear the brunt of public anger.
Though Lucknow, being the state capital, gets 24×7 power supply, the creaking network, especially in old Lucknow, causes the electricity to trip. “The cables and systems are old and they are too expensive to be replaced,” says Kumar, who usually stays in office from 10 am to 10 pm. “Last year, we provided electricity worth Rs 36 crore (through the station) but recovered only Rs 24-25 crore in bills,” he says.
No matter how late he sleeps, at 8.30 am, he has to telephone his staff at the station and then report back to his boss, S K Verma, the Superintending Engineer of one of the five circles in Lucknow.
It is 10.15 am and Kumar is in office, attending to consumer complaints and his staff. People usually meet him for bill-related problems while his juniors hear out power-cut complaints. A junior engineer complains to Kumar about some abusive calls that he has been getting. Kumar tells him to save the caller’s number. As the day wears on, the number of visitors to his room drops.
Things are relatively calm until 2 pm when the sub-station itself sees a power outage. The AC goes quiet and Kumar’s staff flings open the windows.
Kumar rushes to the transformer control room and from there to an open area where three huge transformers are kept. These transformers are the heart of the sub-station. Together they receive 33,000 volts from two sources and then convert it into 11,000 kVA each. The three transformers are in turn connected to 72 transformers within a radius of about a kilometre and these cater to a population of around a lakh continued…